Mumbai Indians will lock horns with an out-of-sorts Rajasthan Royals in Saturday's first IPL 2019 match at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. Mumbai Indians, having won their last three matches, are third on the table with 8 points. Rajasthan Royals, seventh on the table, are still looking for only their second win of the season. MI stars Kieron Pollard and Alzarri Joseph, who have come up with two match-winning performances in the home team's last two matches, will be the players in focus, while home skipper Rohit Sharma's return from injury will also be awaited.
A leg spasm had forced Rohit to miss an IPL game for the first time in 11 seasons when he sat out of Mumbai's last game against Kings XI Punjab.
In Rohit's absence, stand-in skipper Kieron Pollard ensured MI continue their good run as his whirlwind 83-run knock helped the side script a three-wicket win in a humdinger on Wednesday.
The winning runs were hit by 22-year-old Alzarri Joseph, who has been the new sensation in this year's cash-rich T20 league.
After a dream debut where he returned with best IPL figures of six for 12 against Sunrisers Hyderabad, Alzarri (15 not out) played a crucial cameo against Kings XI to romp the side home.
Another West Indian who would be in focus is Jofra Archer, who had given Rajasthan Royal a chance to defend 151 against Chennai Super Kings last night with a superb spell of fast bowling.
Rohit's injury had given a scare to India ahead of the World Cup but Pollard has made it clear that the skipper missed the last game just as a precautionary measure and he should be back in the next game.
"Obviously, Rohit is the captain of the team and it was only a precautionary measure for the team. He should be back in the next game," Pollard had said.
Rohit's inclusion will not only put to rest any doubts about his fitness but also boost the Mumbai's batting line-up, which also comprises Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya and ever-reliable Surya Kumar Yadav.
RR's batting line-up, including skipper Ajinkya Rahane, Sanju Samson, Steve Smith and Jos Buttler will need to pull up their socks to confront the Mumbai bowlers at the Wankhede Stadium.
Archer had a decent outing against Chennai Super Kings and his performance would also be key.
Rajasthan Royals pacers Jaydev Unadkat and Dhawal Kulkarni along with Shreyas Gopal and leggie Riyan Parag would have to deliver for their skipper if they have to stay alive and make it to the Playoffs.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (capt), Quinton de Kock (wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Yuvraj Singh, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Mitchell McClenaghan, Jason Behrendorff, Mayank Markande, Rahul Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah, Alzarri Joseph, Anmolpreet Singh, Siddhesh Lad, Ankul Roy, Evin Lewis, Pankaj Jaiswal, Ben Cutting, Ishan Kishan, Aditya Tare, Rasikh Salam, Barinder Sran, Jayant Yadav
Rajasthan Royals: Ajinkya Rahane (capt), Steve Smith, Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, Jos Buttler, Ashton Turner, Ish Sodhi, Oshane Thomas, Liam Livingstone, Sanju Samson (wk), Shubham Ranjane, Stuart Binny, Shreyas Gopal, Sudhesan Midhun, Jaydev Unadkat, Prashant Chopra, Mahipal Lomror, Aryaman Birla, Riyan Parag, Dhawal Kulkarni, Krishnappa Gowtham, Varun Aaron, Shashank Singh, Manan Vohra, Rahul Tripathi
Match starts at 4 pm IST
(With PTI inputs)